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McKinsey Shows That Business Managers Are Wary Of Blogs And Wikis.

Posted by: Bruce Nussbaum on April 17, 2007

Here’s more information and analysis on why CEOs and top managers fear wikis and blogs. Let me quote from the author of the Mar. 22 McKinsey Global Survey, “How businesses are using Web 2.0, Jacques Bughin, who’s a director in McKinsey’s Brussels office. Jessi Hempel, the innovation editor at BW, did this story online for our Innovation & Design site.

Following the study, Bughin interviewed a number of the respondents. “The reason why blogs and wikis, in particular, aren’t well used is that companies are still afraid,” he posits. “How do you basically regulate how to contribute?” He also thinks the wisdom of crowds isn’t always sharp and that companies are worried about getting bad information on a collaborative document, such as a wiki.

Another barrier to embracing blogs and wikis: Bughin points out that in a knowledge economy where companies remain hierarchical in structure, knowledge is power. If workers put their most precious information in a wiki, their status within their organization could be threatened. “The problem is that people with heavy knowledge tend to keep that for themselves, because that’s the way they define their job,” says Bughin. “Put it in a wiki and everyone has it.”

Jessi concludes that if he’s right, companies serious about embracing these collaborative technologies will need to find a new incentive system for employees.

She adds: It’s likely company usage will evolve as employees age. Baby boomers, who still make up the majority of the workforce, are used to picking up the phone. That will change as millennials, the youngest workers who are now in their teens and early 20s and schooled in instant messaging and blogging, become a growing force. “There’s still a generation gap,” says Bughin.

We are in a major socio-economic-cultural shift away from the control of content and conversations. You can see it everywhere and certainly in business and design. Web 2.0 is opening the conversation and loosening the control of content.

Reader Comments

Tom Guarriello

April 18, 2007 1:06 PM

There's a relevant article in the current issue of MIT's Sloan Management Review, in which Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee discuss the implications of Web 2.0-like thinking for businesses.

Jessi Hempel

April 18, 2007 2:48 PM

Thanks Tom - and please send along anything else you find on the topic. I'm trying to draw together everything that's out there right now....

Mark Charmer

May 2, 2007 12:19 PM

Hi Bruce,

I'd say something else is at play here too. It's about how we share ideas - and more particularly how we share our best idea.

The vast majority of people, right now, have been trained to keep their best ideas locked up inside. The thinking is that they need to be thought through more, built up, ready for a mythical launch day on which they'll be presented.

One of my best friends once told me that you should never be afraid of sharing your ideas because you can always have more. And of course it's true. Yet my researcher was told by a friend, after she had visited our studio, to "make sure you keep your best idea for yourself, Joe". Well I'd argue that his best idea is absolutely the one he should share with me, and with everyone else.

Conventional, hierarchical, command and control organisations discourage the free sharing of your best idea. The best idea should be taken to the boss, not let out into the community and tested and built on. Worse, the person with the idea is expected to spend time working it up into a proposal.

Which kills most of the best ideas bang dead.

And the other marvellous thing about sharing your best idea? Well most people assume you would never do so. So they think you must have even better ideas up your sleeve.

Which is actually what happens anyway, when you start sharing them. Ideas breed.

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Want to stop talking about innovation and learn how to make it work for you? Bruce Nussbaum takes you deep into the latest thinking about innovation and design with daily scoops, provocative perspectives and case studies. Nussbaum is at the center of a global conversation on the growing discipline of innovation and the deepening field of design thinking. Read him to discover what social networking works—and what doesn’t. Discover where service innovation is going and how experience design is shaping up. Learn which schools are graduating the most creative talent and which consulting firms are the hottest. And get his take on what the smartest companies are doing in the U.S., Asia and Europe, far ahead of the pack.

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